Barack Obama picked an openly gay bishop to deliver the closing prayers at the annual White House Easter Prayers Breakfast on Monday.
Gene Robinson, who was the first openly gay bishop in the American Episcopal Church, was picked for the role at the annual event, in front of 150 religious leaders.
The bishop, who retired last year, tweeted: “POTUS ‘preaches’ at the Easter prayer breakfast. Then, out of the blue, asks ME to close with prayer. OMG!”
Obama told Robinson and the crowd: “I want to thank you for your ministries, for your good works for the marching you do for justice, and dignity and inclusion.”
Robinson is a leading voice for gay rights in the church, and entered into a civil union with his partner, Mark Andrew, in 2008.
He told MSNBC: “I did what I always kind of do in prayer, which is to ask God’s blessing on all of God’s children, worldwide.
“I asked a special blessing on this nation and our President, and also (…) I always pray for the poor, and the oppressed, and the marginalized. I think God cares especially about them.”
“President Obama’s evolution on this topic is really a reflection of what has happened all across the nation, across every demographic group, and certainly among young people. They just don’t know what the big deal is.
“And I think we will see even the more conservative religious groups understand that the love that two people share, one for another, is of God. And the gender of those people is not the important thing, it’s the love and the relationship.”